Dubai: Hsieh Su-wei, the latest winner of the annual Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge doesn’t exactly know what she can be more pleased about — entering the top-100 or actually winning a tournament on her comeback.
Hsieh took less than an hour to pack off 19-year-old Natalia Vikhlyantseva 6-2, 6-2 in the singles final of the 19th Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge at the Habtoor Grand Resort Autography Collection on Saturday. No player has ever successfully defended or won the Al Habtoor Tennis Championship on more than one occasion.
Hsieh’s win was pleasing to the 30-year-old in more ways than one. Firstly, she had not played tennis since after the US Open when she sustained multiple injuries on both her ankles. After even contemplating retirement, Hsieh gamely took things in her stride and finally returned to the court in October before choosing the AHTC as her comeback tournament.
Her decision proved to be the best ever as Hsieh — seeded No. 5 here — went on to win easily and become the 19th winner of this tournament that commenced way back in 1998. “Yes I will return next year and defend my title here,” Hsieh promised.
“But what I have achieved in this competition is by far the most I have ever done in my entire career. I came to Dubai thinking I want to get a few practice matches before the start of the new season. But I have done more than all expectations and won this tournament. This is such a fantastic feeling to end the year on this winning note,” the Taiwanese player said.
Going into the Dubai tournament, Hsieh was at No. 108 on the WTA Rankings. But her triumph in Dubai and the 150 points on Saturday will certainly ensure the former two-time Grand Slam champion an end to the year in the top-100 position and an automatic entry into the main draw at the season-opening Australian Open — a huge progression for the 30-year-old after going through injury traumas during the past few months.
“I am relaxed now. I can breathe easy as this is what I had set as my goal,” she smiled.
“Honestly, I never expected to win this tournament. I only came here to get a few tough matches, but I got more than that. I won this tournament,” Hsieh beamed.
Sara Baker, General Secretary, Tennis Emirates was joined by Nasser Al Marzouqi, Board Member, Tennis Emirates, Kyra Nagy, Tournament Director, Fredrik Reinisch, General Manager, Al Habtoor and Hani Al Khafief, ITF Supervisor at the presentation of trophies to the winners.